Serpent God Statue

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I think the problem is, most of my players have had no desire for role models to influence their PCs. They create the character they want to play, then play that. If they make an evil PC, it's not because they want redemption. Maybe I should be prompting the players during character creation to leave room for growth or have an internal conflict or something...

I wonder if that's why my experience is different from yours here:

"Severe psychological problems and Conflicts that need resolving" - For NPC party followers those roles do not fit my style of keeping them from stealing the limelight from the PCs.

Example of when that worked for me: in one of my campaigns, the party teamed up with a cloud giant. I noticed that during the adventure, the giant had repeatedly been humiliated - betrayed by his trusted advisor, rescued by the PCs he had looked down on - while also having a sense of guilt over the moral compromises he'd made. And I decided he was now feeling suicidal, and I waited to see if the PCs would notice. One of them did, and provided the emotional support he needed to keep going. That didn't steal the limelight from the PC - it gave him a chance to be a different type of hero.

I don't have that kind of thing happening in reverse, because most of the PCs I see are wish-fulfilment fantasies who would never suffer from depression...

Mathmuse wrote:
Semi-planned character arcs - Don't all significant NPCs have those as part of their related quests?

Then maybe NPCs like Shalelu and Sandru and Koya aren't significant, since they don't have quests.

In my first Jade Regent campaign, Ameiko decided that maybe she didn't want to rule a country after all - that one of the PCs would be better at it than her. That might have made a good character arc if I'd planned it earlier, where she starts with an overconfident attitude, and gradually realises the incredible responsibility she'd be taking on, as people on the caravan die along the way.

I'm looking into running this campaign again for a new group. (Having gone through the work of replacing all the book 3 caravan encounters with regular encounters and so on the last time, I thought it would be easier to do this AP again than try a new one.)

One of the aspects that didn't contribute much last time was the caravan NPCs, both the big four and the various others they recruited along the way. I'd introduce them, and then they'd mostly fade into the background and get forgotten about. I could throw in an NPC ally to accompany the party from time to time, but it slowed things down, and they weren't actually needed because most of the enemies were pretty easy for four PCs to handle.

And I don't think my players ever once made an effort to start a conversation with these NPCs.

NPCs that have worked better for me in the past might have:

  • Intriguing mysteries - when their secrets are revealed it changes how you feel about them.
  • Severe psychological problems - they need someone to listen to them and give them good advice.
  • Conflicts that need resolving - like two people who hate each other but the party needs them to work together.
  • Quests for the party - "I want this matter dealt with discreetly. There might be a pair of magic boots in it for you..."
  • Moral ambiguity - My version of Skygni the Winter Wolf had a very... practical approach to surviving the frozen North.
  • Semi-planned character arcs - where they end up doing something you would never have imagined them doing early on.
  • Romance established early - the PCs long-suffering girlfriend follows him around on his adventures, worrying he's going to get himself killed.
  • A general sense that they are a little disappointed in the PC and are hard to impress - a stern parent, for example.

I don't think I need them to provide more mechanical benefits. "This person can cast a useful healing spell on you if you return to the caravan," doesn't build much of an emotional bond.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how I could modify the NPCs to make them work better for me?

Kurald Galain wrote:
Making it self-only doesn't help because characters can just UMD it.

That would actually nerf it quite a bit. The druid's animal companion can't do it, the monk can't do it without putting a lot of resources/skill ranks into it. Anyone who can UMD wands potentially has access to lots of other self-only buffs, like Mage Armor.

Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
Wands aren't really a problem since they will all be 1st level and if you want to keep MA going for any length of time you will be buying a lot of wands or paying a lot more for higher level wands.

It lasts an hour even at 1st level. Not great if you're worried about getting ambushed in the wilderness, but enough for a typical dungeon exploration session.

Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
There are ways of circumventing MA, especially once Dispel Magic is available.

Casters don't care much about AC, martial enemies and big dumb monsters don't know Dispel Magic, single enemies don't have the action economy to spare. So that usually only matters in encounters against a balanced team of enemies, which in my experience are rare.

I doubt anyone wanted a director's cut with more caravan encounters. Maybe one day there'll be a Pathfinder 2 Jade Regent - if so, hopefully it'll either have completely rewritten caravan mechanics, or none at all.

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VoodistMonk wrote:
Surrender is volunteering to be eaten, which is the same as giving up, and should be viewed as signs of larger problems with the game, overall. The players are not interested in their own characters enough to care what happens to them.

If the players surrender, it's probably because the alternative is fighting to the death, and surrender looks like their only chance to survive. That's a sign that they do care what happens to the PCs.

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Link: Debate over whether the existence of a special magic mithral tower shield implies the legality of nonmagical ones
Reading those old arguments makes me glad I don't care about that sort of thing any more.

Claxon wrote:

It simply doesn't make sense from a narrative perspective to provide any sort of incentive to surrender. Now from a Gamist perspective it does, because the campaign doesn't end/start over and it's more fun for everyone. But it chafes against realism.

At best you're a prisoner typically for months or years and whatever you had planned on doing probably isn't very relevant anymore.

That's probably true by default, but it's not hard to come up with a narrative where surrender is a reasonable option:

(1) The PCs have rich parents who would pay a ransom.

(2) The PCs have valuable intel that the bad guy wants to personally torture them for, but he's ninety miles away and during the time it will take to transport them there, they might have a chance to escape.

(3) The enemies are town guards and the PCs are wrongfully accused.

(4) The villain believes he's doing the right thing for the world, and that the PCs will join him once he's explained properly why killing all the gods is best for everyone.

(5) The PCs have a preset teleport spell that will bring them home in an hour, and all they have to do is survive that long.

(6) The enemies have been tricked into thinking that if the PCs die, they will return as undead to murder them in their sleep.

The only qualifier I'd add is that it probably shouldn't be any harder to recognise a magic ribbon of +6 intelligence. If the point is flavor, then we shouldn't be trying to get mechanical advantage by inventing items that are easy to conceal. "My magic toenail polish acts as Boots of Haste, so that protects me from thieves."

I think it can be a good thing for a GM to say in Session Zero, "This is the sort of game where surrender is an option. Not all the enemies are murderous psychopaths." Maybe the party has information the enemies want, and vice versa, so nonlethal damage becomes important.

One advantage is that you don't have be so careful about making balanced encounters. Normally, if there's a 10% chance of the party losing, then after around ten such encounters the campaign will end in TPK. And if there's less than a 10% chance of the party losing, the encounter is usually going to pretty one-sided. By lowering the life-or-death stakes, we can afford to make things more challenging and still continue the campaign no matter what happens.

It does take some effort to make this work. For example, if we're doing the standard 'magic item economy', getting captured and losing your stuff will turn the level 10 Fighter into a weakling.

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Not a great ruling, but there are lots of ways to make a reasonable sounding Suggestion that effectively removes a PC from combat. If the demon had said, "Flee, lest we devour your very soul," then the rest of the party could still get slaughtered if they can't handle the battle without the Fighter.

That's why Will saves are so important.

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Diego Rossi wrote:
The job of the crafter that makes the trap is to make it hard to disable, not to make it a cakewalk.

But the job of the game is to make it so that traps can be disarmed, or there'd be no point in having a trap specialist.

It ought to be pretty much impossible for a well constructed magic trap to be disarmed. There's an invisible magic eye looking down the corridor. If it sees any moving entity it doesn't recognise, that person is blasted a fireball. There's no way to reach the eye or the fireball-launcher without entering the area the eye is looking at. As soon as you enter the corridor, you get blasted, and until you enter the corridor, you can't interact with the trap.

In order for this to work in gameplay terms, there has to be a solution the PC can use to get around it. So maybe the Rogue can spot the trap without triggering it by peeking round the corner with a tiny mirror, and then fool the sensors that allow it to tell friend from foe by holding up the severed head of a dead guard...

And Pathfinder isn't the kind of game where it's the player's job to think of that, it's a game where the character thinks of that if they can pass a skill roll.

breithauptclan wrote:
PF1 Mirror Image explicitly doesn't work against Vampiric Touch, Fireball, or anything else that uses saving throws.

It did work against PF1's version of Vampiric Touch, which required a melee touch attack and didn't give a saving throw.

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I had no idea pocket watches existed in Golarion. Are they reliable enough to solve The Longitude Problem? The Traveler's Pocket Watch says it's accurate to within half an hour per day, which doesn't sound good enough to synchronise an attack from different locations. (The regular Pocket Watch doesn't specify.)

There's no game mechanism for a PC to lose track of time, and it would be hard for a player tracking their spell durations not to metagame with that information. I don't see many GM's making it an issue if no-one has a timepiece in the first place.

magnuskn wrote:
If your players have failed to generate enough of a connection between their player characters and Ameiko, there's little one can do, I fear. Seems you should be more concerned at such a point if they are going to off her to try to take the throne themselves at the end, if they don't have the vision already now to see how bad of an idea it is to loot Minkai's national treasures.

I wasn't in a mood to reply to this all those years ago. But since I'm here now:

(1) Concerned? I was pleased when my players tried to take the throne for themselves. (My version of Ameiko wasn't particularly interested in ruling over people anyway.) It made for a more memorable ending.

(2) It is not a bad idea to loot Minkai's treasures. If you're trying to overthrow a government, and you have the chance to help yourself to their entire treasury, any sensible rebel would take the money and use it to further their cause, rather than risk the authorities spending it all on crushing the revolution.

(3) It turns out many players are OK with being told, "There are millions of gold pieces here, but you're not going to be able to spend them on magic items, because game balance."

The teamwork score system, like the relationship subsystem, is one of those mechanics you can just ignore and not feel like you lost anything. Most PCs are crazy strong by this point. As written, the final boss NPCs could be dead in a couple of rounds without ever getting a chance to use their teamwork feats. I added a couple of high-grade Oni to the battle and it still barely slowed my players down.

CorvusMask wrote:
I am wondering about whats up with teamwork scores not being able to go to zero

I'm pretty sure the people who thought that were either leaving out the 'five seals' bonus or the 'rebellion points' effect. The information is scattered and easy to miss.

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My first PC died in a TPK.
My second PC died in a TPK.
My third PC died in a TPK.
My fourth PC was the sole survivor of that party's first dungeon.

What lessons did this teach me? Power-game more. You can't make perfect decisions in every battle. You're bound to have a series of bad dice rolls sooner or later.

With a GM who doesn't pull punches, if other members of the party aren't power-gaming, you have to power-game even harder to compensate. Either that or pressure them into making a stronger character.

Or, you can TPK. Again.

So... don't be too judgmental of people you don't know well who play differently from you. They're probably just doing whatever their first GM inadvertently trained them to do.

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Early editions of D&D didn't give you a free choice of class. Roll 3d6 for all your stats in order. Roll well? You get to be a Paladin. Roll badly? You're stuck being a Fighter. It's hard to blame someone for picking a weak class when they're not allowed to play a stronger one. Your role-playing character building choices were limited more by the rules than by the players. Want to be an Elven Ranger? No, not allowed, forbidden combo.

There was also more of a focus on "we need a Cleric / we need a Thief", since other classes couldn't imitate their unique abilities.

I guess there were some role-play choices that you could be attacked for. Want to play a woman? Your Strength is capped at a lower level.

Could you just make them Strength-based characters? Swashbucklers can use Dex but they aren't forced to.

In an alternative game system where characters can block on the diagonals:

"How come three people can block a 21 foot diagonal line across a 15 by 15 room, but it takes four people to block a 20 foot horizontal line?"

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Based on the way the creators run it (see Jason Bulmahn references on page 5 of this discussion) the intended rule is, if DC is 12, you crit-fail on a 2 or less, and crit-succeed on a 22 or more.

I don't know if there's an official clarification anywhere, but if there was, that's what it would say.

Taja the Barbarian wrote:
Okay, just to put this in perspective, a paladin and associated PCs encounter a cleric of a demon lord, and that cleric clearly comes off as the most honorable person in the room?

Maybe that's part of the problem: Why is this evil cleric acting like a naïve innocent who trusts his enemies, keep his word, and tries to avoid causing harm?

His Chaotic Evil murder-domain demon lord should have taken his powers away for drifting too far from his alignment.

Incorporeals "cannot take any physical action that would move or manipulate an opponent or its equipment" - does that mean they can take physical actions that move their allies?

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The specific case of the Wraith's attack

Melee incorporeal touch +6 (1d6 negative energy plus 1d6 Con drain)

has been debated before

My opinion:
The Ultimate Magic FAQs says:

The general assumption for effects is if the creature negates the damage from the effect, the creature isn’t subject to additional effects from that attack (such as DR negating the damage from a poisoned weapon, which means the creature isn’t subject to the poison).

Since Death Ward negates the damage, it should also negate the drain.

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Guntermench wrote:

5e players should stop complaining about all the same things that are easily fixed by playing something else then.

The next thread over is full of people complaining that spell attack rolls are too hard.

I could post on there, "This is only a problem because you're playing PF2! Just play D&D 5e instead!"

It is technically correct that they could solve that one problem that way, but they'd have to abandon all the stuff they like about their system and learn a new one that has its own issues. People wouldn't be grateful to me for my advice. They'd just think I was an annoying D&D fanboy.

Harles wrote:
So there's really nothing I can do to stem the TPK frequency?

Without getting bogged down in the details of specific groups and encounters, you can:

Make encounters easier by reducing the quality or numbers of enemies.

Make encounters easier by having the enemies act inefficiently.

Check the reputation of published adventures; run the ones that are easier. Or create your own adventure.

Recruit five or six players, instead of the usual parties of four, so group synergy is easier to achieve, and one or two PCs going down is less likely to push them into a death spiral.

Level up the PCs early, give them higher stats, or give them better magic loot.

Teach the players how to play better (using the tips given in this thread).

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Saying "all physical ills and afflictions are repaired" strongly implies that mental ills are not repaired. This suggests that a dead person can have mental illnesses. That seems weird, but let's say the illness is afflicting the creature's soul and continues to do so until Pharasma judges it. A dead creature isn't a valid target for Feeblemind because the soul is not in the body, but if the soul returns it is not magically cured of insanity, etc.

This would also imply that any pre-death buff spells that have not expired should resume their function once the creature returns to life.

I'd worry about confusing the two versions of the character, if I was playing both simultaneously. They'd be different levels and have different equipment, so one would have abilities the other one doesn't have yet. They'd fulfil different roles, based on the needs of the party. They'd have different relationships with party members. They'd be in different spaces emotionally, based on their life experiences.

Then again, people these days have a remarkable ability to keep track of different versions of Spider-Man, so maybe it's not as hard as it sounds.

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AlastarOG wrote:
gesalt wrote:
There's one or two "correct" ways to build a party and play the game and doing otherwise is just an exercise in frustration.

There's a thousand ways to build a party, I'm running... counting... 6 games of pf2e and i've closed 2 campaigns already. all of our parties were 5-6 PC parties, and most of the players outside of me do not do party optimisation.

And it just works!

I wonder if having 5-6 PCs is key here? Four PCs versus published adventure material might feel weak compared to other systems. Having a couple more PCs means there's likely to be enough natural synergy, enough, buffing and debuffing of enemies, to make most parties feel effective.

Diamonds as spell components are such an abstract concept that I think I'd allow it. Trying to apply logic to it is a waste of time. Could you cut a 25,000gp diamond into five 5,000gp diamonds? In our world, no. In our world, small diamonds are cheap, and diamond dust is trivially cheap. To carry 1000gp of diamond dust, you'd need to drag a heavy sack of it around. But that doesn't really work as a game mechanic.

The most practical way to handle it is to treat diamonds as a fungible commodity like gold.

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For curable conditions, it's also worth asking whether these people can afford the relevant spellcasting services. In 2e getting someone to cast a mere second level spell on you costs 7gp. Someone who can barely pay their rent (and who has a disability that might make it hard for them to work) might take years to save that much. And if they need something like Regenerate cast on them, that would cost 50 times as much.

darth_borehd wrote:
Is there a definitive answer on this now?

To which question?

Wisp invisibility works like the spell, so it wears off if the creature attacks.

Stalker invisibility is constant and specifies that it works even against Invisibility Purge. Since it doesn't specify that it works against See Invisible or Glitterdust, those should probably work against it.

If you want to do it strictly within the rules (which isn't necessary in my opinion) you could give it the half-fiend template, use that to increase its mental stats, then give it some class levels.

Your interpretation sounds reasonable to me.
"The azure dragoon’s ability to jump with his Acrobatic checks is treated as though he got a running start and has the Run feat" - it sounds like you only count as having the Run feat for the purpose of making an Acrobatics check to jump, not for being able to move faster.

Diego Rossi wrote:

Yes, it applies to "beneficial spells with a save" and even at those without a save, if the target doesn't want the spell.

The first thing you must realize is that "beneficial" and "harmful" spells don't exist, as far as the game goes.

A distinction between "harmless" and "harmful" spells does exist within the game rules:

Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)

I wonder, are characters supposed to be able to identify whether they want a spell cast on them or not when the caster is invisible and they don't have Spellcraft?

Average Joe 23 wrote:

In Pf2e (and maybe somewhere for 1e also) the developers have said spell manifestations are visible even with invisible casters. But for Hidden Presence there are the lines:

“You make yourself completely undetectable to the subjects by erasing all awareness of your presence from their minds. The targets can’t see, hear, smell, feel, or taste you, including with extraordinary or supernatural senses such as blindsense, blindsight, scent, or tremorsense. They can’t pinpoint your location by any means, including detect spells.”

I have Manifestations mentally categorised as 'not part of you' (unlike your clothes and gear).

Some examples of how Hidden Presence works in my head:
If you dropped some caltrops on the floor, a person who couldn't perceive you would see the caltrops, appearing out of nowhere, because they are no longer part of your gear.
If you were carrying a torch, they would see the room get brighter and feel it getting warmer, but they wouldn't see the torch itself as long as you were carrying it.
But if you set fire to a table, they would see the fire.
I think Manifestations would appear from nowhere in the same way.

My interpretation is that the Manifestations are visible even if the caster is not.

Beyond that, I think in general when you break invisibility by attacking, you still get the benefit of invisibility for the duration of the attack itself - for example, if you sneak attack while invisible, you get the usual bonuses for attacking from total concealment, but you reappear immediately after. I would apply a similar standard to spells - you are no longer invisible, but they didn't get to see your somatic components.

It's only overpowered in very unusual situations. Unless you have some reason to think you'll be in that situation (or have a friendly construct), it's not worth getting.

With non-magic items, Mending is a cantrip, so just about any level 1 caster can get the castle's armory in good condition with a little effort. And magic items don't usually rust.

A burning building isn't much of a threat to a PC rich enough to afford a 10,000gp item. In a castle siege situation, a wall of hewn stone typically has 540 HP. It would take a lot of channels to get one of those back to full health.

Dragon breath, fireball-using liches / vampires / wizards... It seems fairly common to me.

When I was 12, I had a much lower bar for how I'd spend my leisure time. Now I can think of a dozen things I'd rather do than play in a campaign run by a GM who doesn't really know what they're doing.

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Temperans wrote:
Because it is a team game, I think it is fine that not everyone does the exact same thing. 1-2 people hyper focusing on damage, 1 person hyper focusing on spells, and 1 person hyper focusing on skill is the literal stereotypical party. The Rogue is the skill person, so it's fine if they deal less damage than a Barbarian or Fighter whose thing is damage. For me the game is not just combat, but everything including social things and skills so maybe that is the problem? Some people see the game as only combat and nothing else?

Most classes are useful both in and out of combat.

Some classes, like Fighter, are good in combat, bad out of combat.

Rogues are comparatively bad in combat, mediocre out of combat. You'd probably get more utility from a Ranger, a Bard, a Wizard, a Cleric, a Paladin, a Druid, etc. There are so many spells that are better than skills.

A party can generally cope with having one or two characters who are bad at non-combat stuff, as long as you have the most useful abilities covered (eg, someone who can remove negative conditions, someone who can cast Fly/Teleport, a party face, Perception, etc.) Missing abilities create challenges. If no-one can disable the trap in the door, you have to figure out a way to set it off safely, or to tunnel through the wall, or whatever.

Characters who let you down in combat, on the other hand, are a leading cause of TPKs.

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SheepishEidolon wrote:
But rogue has limited HP for a reason. You are supposed to do opportunist strikes, not to wade into the middle of melee and shout "I SMASH FACE".

'Opportunist strikes' are part of the problem. Most classes can attack (or cast) whenever they want. A character that needs to look for an opportunity is much less useful than one that doesn't.

A good opportunity to deal damage (by running round into a flanking position, or dashing across the battlefield to stab the enemy caster) typically puts you in the most dangerous place you can be.

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Chell Raighn wrote:

Rogues are not meant to be in your face fighters, they are designed to be flankers. When playing a rogue you should always be flanking with someone, this brings up your to-hit slightly and is a massive improvement to your damage output. Ideally you would either finish weakened foes off or put them so low that the next hit from anyone will finish them.

Rogues low HP encourages you to utilize cover and concealment. The harder it is to hit you the safer you are, and since rogues are primarily melee combatants (when it comes to combat) you are at greater risk as a rogue than as a squishier class such as wizard.

My experience of seeing a Rogue was like this:

Enthusiastic new player: "My two-weapon-fighting Rogue can do amazing damage!"
In an actual battle:
Round 1: "I guess I'll delay because I can't get flanking yet."
Start of round 2: "I'll come out of delay and move into flanking and make a single attack."
Start of round 3: "Well, the Barbarian killed off the enemy we were flanking, so I don't have flanking again. Also I lost half my hit points before that happened, so now I'm going to have to use cover and concealment..."

Meanwhile, every non-Rogue in the party is providing far more of a contribution, because they're all either 'strong in combat, weak out of combat' like the Barbarian, or 'strong in combat, useful out of combat' like the Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Bard, Ranger, Paladin...

I haven't read this adventure, but these are the solutions I can think of:

Azaersi has a moment of incredible spiritual redemption.

Azaersi is killed and replaced with someone more reasonable.

Azaersi is defeated (in war, or some kind of battle of champions) and forced to accept the abolition of slavery as part of a peace treaty.

Azaersi is bribed to free all the slaves with a legendary artefact or vast amount of gold.

Azaersi makes false promises for the sake of a truce, kicking the problem down the road.

Azaersi offers an economic compromise solution, involving indentured workers who can earn their freedom, wage slavery, feudal serfdom, or a similar exploitative relationship that falls short of actually owning people.

Azaersi gets a replacement for slaves, such as undead laborers or golems.

To create a fantasy evil that doesn't feel like real-world evil, you need to lean on the fantasy elements. Or go back into history for tropes that feel remote from our own problems.

A necromancer kingdom that is gradually replacing all living people with the undead.

An Emperor who demands to be worshipped as a god above all other gods.

A kingdom of monsters where humans live in forests and are hunted for food.

A city of assassins, where poisoning your way to the top is the normal way to advance yourself.

A kingdom of orcs who constantly raid their neighbours for food and resources.

An Empire with a heavy focus on gladiatorial combat, where everyone must participate in at least one fight to the death.


To find out if it’s a critical hit, you immediately make an attempt to “confirm” the critical hit — another attack roll with all the same modifiers as the attack roll you just made... If the confirmation roll is a miss, then your hit is just a regular hit.
A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on an attack roll is always a miss.

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But if you're swallowed whole, it has to be a Light slashing or piercing weapon, and those are useful against grapplers too.

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